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Keeping Their Distance


Poti from the 9th floor
8 p.m. local time (4 p.m. GMT)

It seems like preparations for the Russian forces' pullout have continued throughout the day. In the morning, as I wrote already, the Russians removed the razor wire at all three checkpoints. Now they are also removing the posts around which the wire was wrapped.

Ural trucks are still being loaded with equipment and supplies. Excavators are no longer digging trenches. As for the troops, it looks like their numbers have decreased as well -- but there's still a lot of them in Poti.

The Russian soldiers continue to keep their distance, and won't let anyone approach. Today, I went with a group of local journalists -- we climbed up a nine-story apartment building near the checkpoints and observed the Russian forces from there. The people in one flat let us in, and let us use their balcony. From there, we could see how a group of international reporters approached the Russian forces, presumably to ask them for interviews. But the Russians refused to be filmed -- they did not allow the reporters to turn their cameras on.

It's still raining in Poti. But the overall atmosphere has significantly improved. It's becoming palpable that the Russia forces are really going to leave -- and people in Poti can't wait.
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